up the Good Friday Agreement by introducing a Bill of Rights that does not have the support of the people of Northern Ireland.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has travelled to Belfast for talks as progress is made on a deal between the UK and EU over the Brexit trading agreement. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has stated that while progress has been made on a number of issues, “further work is required” before a final text can be agreed upon. The DUP’s seven tests, which must be met for the party to accept the protocol, include ensuring there are no checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and that the protocol would not constitute a border in the Irish Sea. Donaldson said he had made it clear to the Prime Minister that the party would judge any agreement on the basis of these tests. Talks between the Prime Minister and other Stormont party leaders were described as “constructive,” with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald saying that “very, very significant progress has been made” and that a deal is “absolutely possible and absolutely necessary.” Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said the Prime Minister was “enthusiastic, engaged and positive” in the talks, while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that details on a potential deal had not been outlined. Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said there was still “some heavy lifting to be done” to secure a deal. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly met with the vice president of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations, Maros Sefcovic, in Brussels, with both sides describing it as a constructive meeting. Labour has said it is prepared to offer the Prime Minister the additional votes he needs to get the protocol deal through Parliament, with shadow justice secretary Steve Reed warning that the Prime Minister must not “rip up the Good Friday Agreement” by introducing a Bill of Rights that does not have the support of the people of Northern Ireland.
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